VR Headset Review: Zeiss VR ONE

First Impressions:

When you first see the sleek and modern Carl Zeiss VR ONE headset, you can’t help but think “Hey, that looks like a helmet from Kubricks’ 2001: A Space Odyssey," but maybe that's just me. It's a solid device with attention to detail in terms of the minimalist design, but in that minimalism some seemingly standard features and expectations when it comes to VR headsets are missing.

 

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The Punch List

Field of View & Optics

When looking through the crystal clear proprietary Carl Zeiss lenses I experienced no tunnel vision and my peripheral vision is not hindered at all by the physical size of the headset allowing for a more immersive experience free from the distractions I have felt with other headsets.

Tunability

Without the ability to adjust the interpupillary distance or the lens distance from the eye, some users may find the experience uncomfortable or just a little bit “off”. They designed this headset with the majority of people in mind but there are users who would benefit from the ability to adjust either if not both of those settings.

Weight

This is a very solid unit, that being the case the headset is very front heavy on it’s own, coupled with the weight of the cell phone, it may put a little extra pressure on the cheeks of it's users.

Input

There are no external input buttons making interaction with any software, especially anything made for Google Cardboard, very difficult. Any interaction with the device involves removing the tray from the slot to access the device screen.

Materials

Everything from the plastic used in the housing to the materials used in the strap feels well built and lend to user comfort. The lenses in particular are of exceptional quality, which is of no surprise, given the company’s track record.

Comfort

The width of the viewing area is generous enough that it does not constrict the sides of your face and the straps are elastic enough to got put too much pressure on the head of the user.

Mobility

The size of the VR ONE headset is a little unwieldy for a small bag and is not collapsable like other headsets so if space is tight this headset may not be a good choice.

Device Support

The devices supported by the VR ONE are limited due to the tray system that houses the device and the physical size of the slot that the devices slide into does not allow for anything larger than a 5.2” screen. Zeiss themselves have linked to a CAD file to make your own tray for another device but that is far from an ideal solution.

AR support 

The outer lens of the headset does allow for passthrough of the camera for augmented reality applications, and the tinted nature of the plastic does not interfere with indoor use much at all.

Sun safety

It should be known that any VR headset left with the lenses pointed to the sky is susceptible to a burnout on your device screen (picture an unsupervised child with a magnifying glass and an ant hill).  This headset has a bit of an overhang so if the headset is placed down with the top strap up, it can be left unattended with little concern for the well-being of your precious device display.

Value

For it's $120 price point are we really getting a better experience than the lower cost options? The quality of the images are very good and if you have a compatible device and an average sized head it's an excellent piece of hardware. However, for those who want to be able to adjust the settings of the optics or even interact with the screen within Cardboard apps this is not a great option in the vast sea of VR headsets.

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In Summary...

Solidly built and great optics, but the tray system and the lack of compatibility with third party applications leaves me wanting more.

If you're looking for cool looking VR headset with a great clear field of view (and need little to no interaction with your device) this may be the headset for you - I would recommend this as a try before you buy scenario as it cannot be adjusted to fit your own personal eye distance.

 

Score: 5/10